If you’re working in e-commerce, you’ve probably already dealt with search engine optimization (SEO). You’ve heard of conversion rate optimization (CRO) best practices, too. But, did you know these two concepts play off of one another at a very deep level?

If you look at SEO and CRO optimization as complementary practices, you can find the perfect balance. We need to start by making sure we understand fully what SEO and CRO mean.

What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimization means tuning your online content to the demands of search engine algorithms. To get the best ranking, your content needs to meet certain goals. An algorithm like Google uses will look at both your site as a whole and your individual content. 

These are some of the most common factors that determine how your pages rank for SEO:

  • Site Map

  • Performance

  • Content (Informative benefit, authority)

  • Internal links

  • External links

  • Backlinks

  • Ease of navigation

  • Formatting

  • Keywords

Of course, this is not a static ranking system. The relevance of your material to a search term is the most important factor. Think about it, you don’t want someone looking for shoes to be directed to your ‘how to get app reviews’ article. 

So, you can see that SEO is about getting your content in front of as many people as possible. Then, make sure it’s useful to the most relevant users. CRO, however, has a different focus.

What is CRO?

Conversion Rate Optimization best practices are all about conversions. In short, your conversion rate is how many of the customers who view your e-commerce content convert into sales. 

You probably know the difference between paying per ‘click’ and paying per ‘conversion’. That’s very similar to what we’re talking about here. Where SEO focuses on ‘clicks’, CRO focuses on ‘conversions.’

So, CRO looks at factors like the visual appeal of your call to action buttons. As well as making sure tone and branding are consistent and other factors that affect conversions. Their technical focus and KPIs will look more at CLV and UX metrics.

There are some common factors with SEO that CRO would also look to optimize. Performance, formatting and ease of navigation are all just as important to CRO. Yet, you might be able to see that there are some natural conflicts of interest between SEO and CRO.   

Even your optimal conversion rate is just a percentage of your total traffic. So, if you focus only on conversion rate you could inadvertently hurt your overall traffic numbers. To explain this in simple terms, it’s better to convert 10% of 600 people than 100% of 6 people. 

Why do SEO & CRO work so well together?

This brings us to the core of why SEO and CRO should work together. If you focus too much on traffic numbers, you could end up with low-quality traffic and low conversions. Focus too much on conversions and you might miss out on quality traffic.

When you analyze both optimal SEO and CRO strategies, you can then find the balancing point. This will allow you to get the best combination of traffic volumes and conversion rates.   

The relationship between CRO and SEO explained

The precise relationship between SEO and CRO is highly interconnected. That makes it difficult to give you the whole story by writing it out. The diagram below is a good visualization of the relationship between SEO & CRO. 

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We can see here the overlapping areas of SEO & CRO, like user experience and performance. We can also see the key differences in how these areas are monitored within an organization.  

Take both sets of KPI results and look at them together. Then, you can gain further insights into optimizing your online content. 

The Benefits of Combining SEO & CRO

You’re probably starting to see why combining SEO and CRO best practices can benefit your business. Let’s look at some of the key areas that can be improved. 

Traffic Quality

When it comes to e-commerce traffic, it’s definitely quality over quantity that you want. Ideally, though, you want both quality and quantity. 

If you don’t know what we mean by this, quality traffic means engaged users who are interested in your business. They might have come directly from an ad, specifically because they liked it. This type of traffic is more likely to lead to sales conversions. 

Optimizing for SEO will bring in more traffic. But, if you want that traffic to have quality, then you’ll need to optimize in a certain way. An example of this would be targeting local area keywords over more generally searched terms. 

When you bring in quality traffic, you can then benefit further by optimizing for conversion rates on-site. This includes making sure your call to action prompts are clear and purchases are easily accessible. 

Data Quality

As you bring in more quality traffic, the data you can gather from that traffic will improve as well. Not to mention, if your SEO strategy is paying off, you’ll also be getting more data. 

More engaged users make happier customers. These kinds of customers are more likely to give useful feedback to your business. Working on your weaknesses is important. But, getting data on what your highest value customers love can help you upgrade your user experience. 

Your user experience (UX) is key to both good SEO and CRO. Make use of your business data to optimize your processes. User surveys, voice analytics and behavioral trends can all give you useful data. 

Conversion Rates

Obviously, you can increase conversion rates with CRO. But what’s an optimal conversion rate? If you currently have a 3% conversion rate, moving that up to 5% would be a big win, particularly if you have high traffic levels or a higher value per item sold.

Conversely, if your conversions are at 20% and your latest SEO change takes that down to 18% with a minimal traffic increase, that’s an SEO fail. Knowing your current conversion rate is important to this process. 

As you develop your combined SEO and CRO strategy, you’ll need to keep tweaking each side of it. Eventually, you’ll get your SEO & CRO fully working together. 

Optimized Marketing Spend

As you refine your process, you’ll also get data on your best marketing channels. Monitor what works and doesn’t for your advertising and sales. Then, you’ll be able to optimize your spending.

You may choose to focus more on the channels that your core customers prefer. You might decide to branch out into new markets. Decisions like this will form a key part of your business transformation roadmap

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Reputation Management

One factor online businesses often forget about is how your site and content affect your brand and reputation. Some customers want fancy visuals, some want optimal performance. It will depend on your core audience or your target audience. 

Your UX design will go a long way in how your customers perceive your business. Are you open, or exclusive? Are you friendly, or are you formal? These kinds of subjective decisions will be important to your customer base. 

The Role of User Experience

Underlining all of this is your User Experience. If your UX isn’t up to scratch, your work on SEO and CRO will be for nothing. You should already be monitoring your UX as part of your CRO strategy.

Statistics show that user experience is important to customers. Use the data you gather to accurately judge where the line between optimization and user experience is. Again, this is something that will depend heavily on your audience. 

Tips for Implementing a Joint SEO & CRO Focus:

  • Cooperation is Important

Make sure your sales, customer service and marketing teams can all communicate effectively. Everything from your POS software to your inventory system should work together. 

  • Define Your Objectives

Set out what you want to achieve, as you would with any other project. It’s important for everyone working on your content to work toward the same goal.

  • Define Your Process

You can help with this by setting out a clear process map. If everyone knows the steps to take, then it’s easier to work together without excessive communication. 

Final Thought: SEO & CRO in Harmony

You can be more focused on your CRO or SEO, that’s fine. But you should always be looking to balance them in the most sensible way for your business needs. Virtual open house tours need to be advertised in a different way than toothbrushes, that’s just how marketing works. 

You already know this. But we hope that the information in this article helped you understand why SEO and CRO are best together.